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Movie review: 'Rubber' rolls right along as a horror-film parody?

Posted 10:36am on Friday, Apr. 15, 2011

R (violent images, strong language); 83 min.

Stirring to life in a trash heap, a psychokinetic tire goes on a murderous rampage. It rolls around in the dust of California byways, humming, thrumming, making people's heads explode. Meanwhile, a crowd of moviegoers observes the action through binoculars.

That's Rubber for you: a self-referential schlock-horror parody that doesn't take any piece of itself -- either the self-references or the schlock -- all that seriously. That's clear enough from the start, when a sandy-haired sheriff played by Stephen Spinella crawls out of a trunk to deliver the opening monologue, a brilliantly stupid dissertation on cinematic absurdity that ponders the brownness of E.T. and the absence of bathroom visits in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

What's the explanation for these things? No reason.

So the tire wakes for no reason. It acquires its psycho-killing abilities for no reason. It rolls around without means of locomotion for no reason. The audience watches from a distance for no reason. What becomes of them also happens for no reason, although I suspect writer-director Quentin Dupieux (also known as Mr. Oizo to fans of French electro) is trying to make some arcane deconstructionist point about observers and the subversion of literary perspective.

A more germane question would be: Is the fool thing worth seeing? Yes, if you have 83 minutes and several bucks to spare, if you're crazy for metafiction, and if Dupieux's brand of nonsensical deadpan parody speaks to your inner Dadaist. Bits of it spoke to me, and I laughed. The charismatic lead tire, credited as "Robert," displays truly impressive acting chops and comic timing.

Exclusive: Texas Theatre, Dallas

-- Amy Biancolli, Houston Chronicle

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